Designing Innovative LSEVs for the Chinese Automotive Market
With our deep experience designing for the Chinese automotive Industry over many years, SF tackled this project to explore design solutions for 3-wheel and 4-wheel LSEVs targeting various customer segments in the Chinese market. SF was able to draw on insights gained from previous execution of first-hand, on-location, primary research activities with Chinese consumers, as well as research on the specific user segments of interest for this project. Equipped with these insights, SF developed a high-level design strategy for the vehicles, keeping in-step with a boldly differentiated visual brand language which SF had previously established in an earlier project, while embracing features, materials, and assembly methodologies that would be appropriate to the culture and to the strengths and capabilities common to automotive OEMs in this market.
Designing a complex product for a culture not your own is a wonderful opportunity to bring a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective to bear on the pain points, norms, practices, assumptions, and design sensibilities of that culture.
But designs for any culture must be deeply rooted in skillfully targeted and executed research activities to understand users’ values, beliefs, behaviors, and conventions surrounding the product use case in order to be successful. Sundberg-Ferar’s decades of experience developing research & design strategies and complex products for clients throughout international markets ensures that solutions we create take these differences into account from the outset and are tailored to the intended users.
Since the beginning of SF’s work with clients in the Chinese market, the SF team has developed multiple light and medium-duty utility and commercial 3 and 4-wheel vehicles that are in production today.
This particular project was initiated because of additional opportunities emerging in the 3 and 4-wheeled LSEV market, for both utility and consumer applications, as a result of economic shifts. SF’s task was to develop design strategies addressing these economic opportunities and resulting use-cases.
Low Speed EV Design for the Chinese Automotive Market
“Developing design strategies and complex products for diverse clients in international markets has been one of our mainstays for many years.”
In the consumer category, SF explored design opportunities to address the country’s aging population through a reliable 3-wheeled LSEV: a familiar vehicle for that demographic. The team also explored the opportunity to provide a more fashionable, progressively styled, and connectivity-rich transportation option to the large younger generation. Finally, the SF team explored the opportunity to provide young families with independence through a more affordable option for their 1st or 2nd vehicle; less expensive than a traditional car but providing more safety and physical coverage than a scooter. In the utility category, SF explored design opportunities for LSEV packages that would service “last mile” delivery logistics, and safer more convenient options for construction industries respectively.
After primary research activities, SF began by benchmarking the competitive LSEV market landscape to identify and confirm market gaps and white space as well as develop feature sets and visual brand language for 3-wheel and 4-wheel LSEVs. The SF team also developed additional strategic possibilities for an OEM to use development of this segment as a testbed for future full-size consumer EV manufacturing, an ambition common to many OEMs in the Asian market. This way, an OEM could be optimally positioned to rollout full-size EVs using a market-tested, matured, and differentiated visual brand language that was previously validated in their LSEV lines. The SF team implemented these long-term brand strategies in feature and styling recommendations for the LSEV vehicles. SF also detailed a design strategy for future full-size EV brand language and integrated key aspects of this strategy into their ideations, staging the LSEVs to evoke valuable feedback that would inform decisions and smooth the path to future EV expansion.
Low Speed EV Design for the Chinese Automotive Market
The Chinese market offers very limited differentiation or diversity in the LSEV segment. SF’s work on this project provided vehicle design strategies that put the user at the center across multiple use-cases, and created a foundation from which to develop tangible solutions to the common pain points left unaddressed by so many existing market options.
The results of this project not only provided a concise set of design solutions addressing opportunities to grow LSEV market share, it also provided insights and strategy above and beyond project goals, leveraging current efforts as fuel for entry into future markets, and new business growth.
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